Act V, Scene I

The sea-shore. Andromeda chained to the cliff.

    O iron-throated vast unpitying sea,
    Whose borders touch my feet with their cold kisses
    As if they loved me! yet from thee my death
    Will soon arise, and in some monstrous from
    To tear my heart with horror before my body.
    I am alone with thee on this wild beach
    Failed with echo of thy roaring waters.
    My fellowmen have cast me out: they have bound me
    Upon thy rocks to die. These cruel chains
    Weary the arms they keep held stiffly out
    Against the rough cold jagged stones. My bosom
    Hardly contains its thronging sobs; my heart
    Is torn with misery: for by my act
    My father and my mother are doomed to death,
    My kind dear brother, my sweet Iolaus,
    Will cruelly be slaughtered; by my act
    A kingdom ends in miserable ruin.
    I thought to save two fellowmen: I have slain
    A hundred by their rescue. I have failed
    In all I did and die accursed and hated.
    I die alone and miserably, no heart
    To pity me: only your hostile waves
    Are listening to my sobs and laughing hoarsely
    With cruel pleasure. Heaven looks coldly on.
    Yet I repent not. O thou dreadful god!
    Yes, thou art dreadful and most mighty: perhaps
    This world will always be a world of blood
    And smiling cruelty and its fit sovereign.
    But I have done what my own heart required of me,
    And I repent not. Even if after death
    Eternal pain and punishment await me
    And gods and men pursue me with their hate,
    I have been true to myself and to my heart,
    I have been true to the love it bore for men,
    And I repent not.
    She is silent for a while.
    Alas! Is thee no pity for me? is there
    No kind bright sword to save me in all this world?
    Heaven with its cold unpitying azure roofs me,
    And the hard savage rocks surround: the deaf
    And violent Ocean roars about my feet,
    And all is stony, all is cold and cruel.
    Yet I had dreamed of other powers. Where art thou,
    O beautiful still face amid the lightinings,
    Athene? Does a mother leave her child?
    And thou, bright stranger, wert thou only a dream?
    Wilt thou not come down glorious from thy sun,
    And cleave my chains, and lift me in thy arms
    To safety? I will not die! I am too young,
    And life was recently so beautiful.
    It is too hard, too hard a fate to bear.

She is silent, weeping, Cydone enters:
she comes and sits down at Andromeda’s feet.

    How beautiful she is, how beautiful!
    Her tears bathe all her bosom. O cruel Syrians!

    What gentle touch is on my feet? Who art thou?

    I am Cydone. Iolaus loves me.

    My brother! Lives he yet?

    He lives, dear sweetness,
    And sent me to you.

ANDROMEDA (joyfully)
    It was a cruel lie!
    He’s free?

    No, bound and in the temple. Weep not.

    Alas! And you have left him there alone?

    The gods are with him, sister. In a few hours
    We shall be all together and released
    From these swift perils.

    Together and released!
    Oh, yes, in death.

    I bid you hope. O child,
    How beautiful your are, how beautiful,
    Iolaus’ sister! This one white slight garment
    Fluttering about you in the ocean winds,
    You look like some wind-goddess chained in play
    By frolic sisters on the wild sea-beaches.
    I think all this has happened, little sister,
    Just that the gods might have for one brief hour
    You for a radiant vision of childish beauty
    Exposed against this wild stupendous background.

    You make me smile in spite of all my grief.
    Did you not bid me hope, Cydone?

    And now
    I bid you trust: for you are saved.

    I am.
    I feel it now.

    Your name’s Andromeda?

    Iolaus calls me so.

    I think he cheats me.
    You are Iolaus changed into a girl,
    Come, I will kiss you dumb for cheating me
    With changes of yourself.

Kisses her.

    If I could have
    My Iolaus always chained like this
    To do my pleasure with, I would so plague him!
    For he abuses me and calls me shrew,
    Monster and vixen and names unbearable,
    Because he’s strong and knows I cannot beat him.

    The world is changed about me.

    Heaven’s above.
    Look up and see it.

    There is a golden cloud
    Moving towards me.

    It is Perseus, Sweetheart,
    I go to Iolaus in the temple, –
    I mean your other fair boy-self. Kiss me,
    O sweet girl-Iolaus, and fear nothing.

She goes out over the rocks.

    I shall be saved! What is this sudden trouble
    That lifts the bosom of the tossing deep,
    Hurling the waves against my knees? Saved me!
    Where art thou gone. Cydone? What huge head
    Raises itself on the affrighted seas?
    Where art thou, o my saviour? Come! His eyes
    Glare up at me from the grey Ocean trough
    Hideous with brutish longing. Like great sharp rocks
    His teeth are in a bottomless dim chasm.

She closes her eyes in terror. Perseus enters.

    Look up, O sunny-curled Andromeda!
    Perseus, the son of Danaë, is with thee
    To whom thou now belongest, Fear no more
    Sea-monsters not the iron – souled Poseidon,
    Nor the more monstrous flinty-hearted rabble
    Who bound thee here. This huge and grisly enemy
    That rises from the flood, need not affright thee.
    Thou art as safe as if thy mother’s arms
    Contained thee in thy brilliant guarded palace
    When all was calm, O white Andromeda!
    Lift up thy eyes’ long curtains: aid the azure
    With thy regards, O sunshine. Look at me
    And see thy safety.

    O thou hast come to me!
    It was not only a radiant face I dreamed of.

    In time to save thee, my Andromeda,
    Sole jewel of the world. I go to meet
    They enemy, confronting grim Poseidon.

    O touch me ere you go that I may feel
    You are real.

    Let my kiss, sweet doubting dreamer,
    Convince thee. Now I dart like a swift hawk
    Upon my prey and smite betwixt the billows.
    Watch how I fight for thee. I will come soon
    To gather thee into my grasp, my prize
    Of great adventure.

He goes out.

    The music of his name
    Was in my brain just now. What must I call thee?
    Perseus, the son of Danaë! Perseus!
    Perseus, Athene’s sword! Perseus, my sungod!
    O human god of glad Andromeda!
    Forgive, Athene, my lack of faith. Thou art!
    How like a sudden eagle he has swooped
    Upon the terror, that lifts itself alarmed,
    Swings its huge length along the far-ridged billows
    And upwards yawns its rage. O great Athene!
    It belches fiery breath against my Perseus
    And lashes Ocean in his face. The sea
    Is tossed upon itself and its huge bottoms
    Catch chinks of unaccustomed day. But the aegis
    Of perseus hurls the flame-commingled flood
    Back in the dragon’s eyes: it shoots its lightnings
    Into the horizon like fire-trailing arrows.
    The world surprised with light gazes dismayed
    Upon the sea-surrounded war, ringed in
    With foam and flying tumult. O glorious sight,
    Too swift and terrible for human eyes!
    I will pray rather. Virgin, beautiful
    Athene, virgin-mother of soul!
    I cannot lift my hands to thee, they are chained
    To the wild cliff, but lift my heart instead,
    Virgin, assist thy hero into fight.
    Descend, armipotent maiden, child of Zeus,
    Shoot from his god-like brain the strength of will
    That conquers evil: in one victorious stroke
    Collecting hurl it on the grisly foe.
    Thou, thou art sword and shield, and thou the force
    That uses shield and sword, virgin Athene.
    The tumult ceases and the floods subside.
    I dare not look. And yet I will. O death,
    Thou tossest there inertly on the flood,
    A floating mountain. Perseus comes to me
    Touching the waves with airy-sandalled feet,
    Bright and victorious.

Perseus returns.

    The grisly beast is slain that was thy terror.
    And thou may’st sun the world with smiles again,

    Thou hast delivered me, O Perseus, Perseus,
    My sovereign.

    My own that I have won and with these kisses
    Seal to me happy head and smiling eyes,
    Bright lips and all of thee, thou sunny Syrian.
    All thy white body is a hero’s guerdon.


    Sweetly thou tak’st my eager kisses
    With lovely smiles and glorious blushing cheeks
    Rejoicing in their shame.

    I am chained, perseus,
    And cannot help myself.

    O smile of sweetness!
    I will unravel these unworthy bonds
    And rid thee of the cold excuse.

    My chains?
    They do not hurt me now, and I would wear them
    A hundred times for such a happy rescue.

    Thou tremblest yet!

    Some sweet and sudden fear
    O’ertakes me! o what is it? I dare not look
    Into thy radiant eyes.

    Sweet tremors, grow
    Upon her. Never shall harsher fears again
    O’ertake your rosy limbs, in Perseus’ keeping.
    How fair thou art, my prize Andromeda!
    O sweet chained body, chained to love not death,
    That with a happy passiveness endures
    My touch, once more, once more. And now fall down
    Clashing into the deep, you senseless irons,
    That took a place my kisses only merit.
    Princess of Syria, child of imperial Cepheus,
    Step forward free.

ANDROMEDA (falling at his feet and embracing them)
    O Perseus, O my saviour!
    Wilt thou not also save those dear to me
    And make this life thou givest worth the giving?
    My father, mother, brother, all I love,
    Lie for my fault shuddering beneath the knife.

    It was a glorious fault, Andromeda.
    Tremble not for they loved ones. Wilt thou trust
    Thy cherished body in my arms to bear
    Upward, surprising Heaven with thy beauty?
    Or wilt thou fear to see the blue wide Ocean
    Between thy unpropped feet, fathoms below?

    With you I fear not.

    Cling to me then, sweet burden,
    And we will meet our enemies together.

He puts his arms round her to lift her and the curtain falls.